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Mohammed Shami vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Virat Kohli has a decision to make

Yes, it is a great headache to have, but it all boils down what Kohli as a skipper wants.

Mohammed Shami of India
Mohammed Shami of India celebrates with Virat Kohli after dismissing Kane Williamson. (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

Figuring out the World Cup combinations was perhaps the biggest motive for Team India when it started the One Day Cycle last year. They took on England, Windies, Australia, and New Zealand and perhaps are closest to identifying players for the different roles.

Yes, middle order was a concern, and by giving Ambati Rayudu a long rope, one problem has been fixed. MS Dhoni continues to get the job done and he continues to polarise opinions, but then that is MS Dhoni. However, as the team enters the final run before the World Cup, the emergence of Mohammed Shami as a white ball prospect is perhaps the sweetest music of muddle for the selectors and the management.

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There was little doubt over the talent and pedigree of Mohammed Shami, he was hit and miss, but last year, his form with the red ball was exemplary, second only to Jasprit Bumrah. And when Bumrah was rested for the Australia and New Zealand series, Shami was given another go with the white nut – and he grasped it with both hands.

The selectors have tried to give him an extended run, and they have tried to manage his workload, but his form and subsequently the rather iffy returns of Bhuvneshwar in the same period could have pushed him ahead in the reckoning as the second seamer.

Who would you choose, Virat?

Now, when Bumrah has been rested and both Bhuvneshwar and Shami have shared the new ball, the returns are quite identical. Bhuvi has one more wicket than Shami and his economy rate of 5.18 is only marginally better than Shami’s 5.45.

Hardik Pandya is back, and with him in the mix, Kohli could well go in with the two wrist spinners, which leaves only one spot open. It will be a shootout between Shami and Bhuvneshwar and considering the pace and accuracy which Shami brings to the table, it could be a tasty proposition for Kohli, considering the pitches in England and Wales for the World Cup.

Bhuvneshwar, for his skills and prowess, has been on the wane in the recent past but gives Kohli the control he needs with the new ball. Shami has been consistent in the aforementioned series, and his propensity to throw one ball down the leg side has seen a decline, and the numbers of the two are quite close.

Yes, it is a great headache to have, but it all boils down what Kohli as a skipper wants.

In 103 games, Bhuvneshwar averages 35.91 which is not very promising, yet his ability in the death overs puts him ahead in the race. However, their economy rates are the same in the phase – 7.37 and 7.3 and Shami is slightly ahead in the race as far as wickets taken in the phase is concerned.

Now, if India want to elongate the batting order, Bhuvneshwar could get the nod as he is more proficient with the bat. But, if Virat Kohli wants to control the game, he could opt for Bhuvneshwar, but if he wants to break the game wide open up front, Shami could get the nod.

So, captain Kohli, what’s your position?

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